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Honest -- I was NOT trying to prove my thesis! (Part 1)

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More than once over the years Iíve made the point that, if you ride in a car to the A.T., then your risk of dying from that activity is greater than your risk of a fatal bear attack.

For those who, unlike me, have a life, feel free to skip this paragraph.
For those interested, the latest stats are as follows:
Auto fatalities in 2017 were 1.16 per 100 million vehicle-miles,
(ie, if a million vehicles each drove 10,000 miles in 2017, we would expect about 116 fatalities), a rate that has held steady for a few years. Thus, traveling 100 miles to the Appalachian Trail in a car means your odds of dying in a wreck are 1.16 million to one.
Total visitors to Shenandoah between 1968 and 2017: 84,600,000
Total visitors to Great Smoky Mountains between 1968 and 2017: 448,970,000
The number of bear fatalities, for visitors to national parks in the Eastern U.S. with large bear populations, remains at one Ė meaning the odds for such a fatality are about 553 million to one.
Vehicles in the U.S. in 2018: 276 million
Cumulative sales of electric cars in the U.S., end of 2018
Meaning Iíll have to change my statement again: youíre more likely to die in a car crash involving a Tesla Model X (not ANY Tesla brand, mind you, only the 65,000 Model Xís)

Last week one might think that I tried to add to the body of evidence supporting my basic thesis, as I drove a car at about 70 mph while there was a NAIL IN ONE OF THE TIRES! What are the odds of a fatality if you have a tire blow-out at 70 mph? Iím glad I didnít find out!!
The full story is that my Enterprise rental car was giving me a signal that I had low tire pressure in at least one of the tires. When this happened with our own car last year, I made certain that all four tires had about 30 psi Ė and STILL got the Low Pressure signal. It cost about $40 to have a mechanic reset the tire pressure sensor so that we no longer got the signal. I was thus tempted to simply ignore the signal I was getting in my rental car, figuring it was just another false warning. The fact that I was in a hurry to get to the starting point of my hike figured into my decision. Blessedly, (1) I had factored in a lot of extra hours to get to my destination, (2) I was able to find an Enterprise Rental Center not too far from the expressway in Tennessee, and (3) I chose not to be so bull-headed about ignoring this problem. If one of the tires really WAS low on air, I wanted to get it properly inflated.
The rental people told me to take the car to the mechanic next door, and within five minutes he came to me with what I presumed to be a statement that the pressures were all fine. I know I grimaced when he showed me the nail in tire, cause I was sure it meant a delay in getting on my way. Instead, the rental people agreed to give me a different car at no additional charge, and with a change in the contract such that I could return this different car to the center in the Philadelphia area. Kudos to Enterprise for promptly finding a full solution to my problem! Although I had a fair amount of gear, it took about five minutes to transfer it all to the new car, and I was back on the road after a mere hour or so delay.

I arrived at Standing Bear Hostel
in plenty of time for my shuttle to Hot Springs and, despite a high dew point in late afternoon, was able to hike the three miles uphill to Deer Park Mountain Shelter well before dark. I had hopes of hiking beyond this shelter to some tent sites south of there, but I have learned the hard way to NOT rely on finding a tent site late in the day when soupy air mean a rainstorm might come at any time.
I also changed what I wear on my torso Ė twice. I began, as I normally do, with a base layer of merino wool and a cover of a long-sleeved shirt. I quickly found the latter just made me sweat even worse, and gave me no extra sun protection, as I kept rolling up the sleeves. So I switched to only a merino wool t-shirt. Eventually that got drenched in sweat, so much that it began to stink Ė and I pay for merino because it usually DOESNíT do that. I even tried washing it out, but found that was using a lot of water to get out only about half the sweat. So I switched to wearing only my long-sleeve silk shirt. Shirts made of that material are (1) very comfortable in hot weather and (2) donít cost much if you buy them at thrift stores.

The high dew points the next two days made climbing hills quite enervating. Blessedly (again!) I had absolutely no pain going downhill Ė indeed, my toes actually got BETTER looking during this hike Ė so my average hourly speed and daily distance were pretty much unchanged. I was able to make the ten miles to Walnut Mountain Shelter on Day Two and the thirteen miles to Groundhog Creek Shelter on Day Three. Unlike last hike, I had no interactions with bears, bees, or ticks.
The walk over Max Patch was okay, but the simple fact is that I can better views from places I can drive to. Hiking over balds is actually a bother to me because (1) Iím in the sun and (2) grassy areas greatly increase the odds of ticks. So donít expect any laud of Max Patch from me.

Updated 07-16-2019 at 15:41 by GoldenBear